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"The Stack" 3-24-16

Villanova stormed their way past UNC Asheville and Iowa to reach the Sweet 16? Is this a new Villanova team that can take down Miami (FL)? Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Villanova stormed their way past UNC Asheville and Iowa to reach the Sweet 16? Is this a new Villanova team that can take down Miami (FL)?
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Can Buddy Hield shoot his and the Sooners' way into the Elite Eight against an A&M team that has new life and is essentially playing with house money after their comeback win last weekend over Northern Iowa? Find out tonight as the West Region tips off.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Can Grayson Allen lead the Duke Blue Devils to an upset win over Oregon in Anaheim tonight? If he does, the Blue Devils will take on the winner of A&M and Oklahoma.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament is back and boy have we (I) missed it.  Four games tonight on CBS and TBS and The Stack is here with a preview of all of them but first, this in “the stack” for today, Thursday, March 24th:

 

A-Rod to retire after 2017 season

 

Alex Rodriguez is calling it quits.  Well, after the 2017 season that is.  The New York Yankees slugger told ESPN on Wednesday that he will be done playing baseball after the 2017 season which also is the final year of the ten-year, $275 million deal he signed with the Yankees almost a decade ago.  He comes into this season with 687 homeruns, 76 behind Barry Bonds.  Will he catch Bonds?  It seems doubtful.  Maybe if he hadn’t been suspended for the full 2014 season he would have caught Bonds.  Then again if he hadn’t been taking steroids and PEDs for so many years, maybe Rodriguez would be much further back then he currently is.

 

No doubt Rodriguez seemed to enjoy himself more last season and Yankees fans embraced him even when it seemed like the team did not.  Fans on the road gave him a hard time and I’m not sure if Rodriguez or Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers endured a more difficult time coming back from suspension and dealing with the fans.  My thought is that Braun had it worse, but I could be slight off base with that.  The real question is if Rodriguez, when it is all said and done will be a hall-of-famer.  His numbers certainly back it up, but in this steroid era, the fact that he has acknowledged he took them and was suspended a full season for it will be something that baseball writers and voters remember.  If you let Rodriguez in, then you need to look at guys like Bonds and Mark McGwire.  At some point someone from the Steroids Era has to be voted in.  Can’t turn a blind eye on all of them.  Rodriguez had the sheer talent alone to put up gaudy numbers.  We’ll see if that and the final three years of his career will be enough to sway voters’ minds when it comes time to vote him into the hall-of-fame some years down the line.  For now though, we will just get to enjoy watching Rodriguez play for two more seasons.

 

Sweet 16 preview

 

#3 Miami(FL) vs. #2 Villanova 7:10 PM ET CBS Louisville, KY (South Region)

 

Angel Rodriguez has played outstanding for the Hurricanes in leading them to Louisville and the Sweet 16, but he is going to need a whole lot more help if Miami wants to beat Villanova.  This is a different Villanova team.  Not sure if they are championship material, but they at least seem mentally stronger than the team of last year or the year before that.  They have very good players and a tremendous coach in Jay Wright.  They will be one win away from the Final Four after Thursday night.

 

Pick: Villanova

 

#3 Texas A&M vs. #2 Oklahoma 7:37 PM ET TBS Anaheim, CA (West Region)

 

Still stunning that A&M was able to come back and force overtime against Northern Iowa after being down by 12 with 34 seconds left to go in the game Sunday night.  Still impressive that they won the game in double overtime.  If they find themselves down by 12 against Oklahoma late, you can forget about another comeback, not with the way Buddy Hield has been playing.  I would love to see A&M win, but seeing the way Oklahoma has played so far only reaffirms that they have the explosive offense, much more of an explosive offense than A&M to be able to beat the Aggies.

 

Pick: Oklahoma

 

#5 Maryland vs #1 Kansas 9:40 PM ET CBS Louisville, KY (South Region)

 

Maryland has some fantastic players in Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone and Rasheed Suilimon.  They just haven’t been able to put together a complete game yet in this tournament, surviving South Dakota State and not being able to put Hawaii away until late.  Kansas, apart from the second half against UCONN, has looked great.  They aren’t flashy, but they have very good players like Wayne Seldon Jr. that just know how to put teams away.  They will do so again in this one.

 

Pick: Kansas

 

#4 Duke vs. #1 Oregon 10:07 PM ET TBS Anaheim, CA (West Region)

 

Oregon looked real shaky against St. Joseph’s in the second round.  That game is why so many people think they will be the first #1 seed knocked out.  Duke can do it to them.  But Duke is relatively thin and Oregon will try to get them in foul trouble.  A lot of points will be scored in this game and against my better judgement, I think Oregon ends up with more when it is all said and done.

 

Pick: Oregon

 

Coming up Friday: Thursday Sweet 16 reaction plus Friday Sweet 16 preview


Check out this week's "The Sports Block" podcast here.


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